THE NEWS BLOG

 
Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Independent
Washington Post
Newsday
Iraq Order of Battle
Agonist
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News
CNN
Blogger

 
Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Atrios
Digby's Blog
Skippy
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Uggabugga
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Tbogg
Corrente
Gropinator
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Wonkette
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Driftglass
At-Largely
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

 
Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Colonial Warfare, pt 14


murdering the Malagasy


Of all the brutal repressions of end of the colonial period, the French repression on Madagascar remains the least known. While the Dutch refuse to discuss their war in Indonesia and the Belgians pretend someone else ran the Congo, the French simply forgot what happened on Madagascar.

Jaona, Jiny’s founder in the south, is one of the few nationalist chiefs to acknowledge his responsibility in triggering what the settlers called the "rebellion" and what the Malagasies themselves were later to refer to as the "events". He explains: "My ancestors were killed during the French occupation, shot by Senegalese firing squads. I had to fight to avenge my father. I was angry. I told myself: we went to France, fought the Germans, defended France, country of the French. Why aren’t we defending our own country? Let’s stand up and be counted. Let’s abolish forced labour. I called the people out on strike" (5).

Two guerrilla zones were formed in the dense, mountainous forest of the east and then spread. A "railway battle" ensued with the collusion of some of the railway workers. Several "armies" were formed with their own "generals" and "war ministers"; and newly-demobilised soldiers led the rebels, as did many of the mpanjakas (traditional chiefs).

An 18,000 strong French expeditionary force - subsequently increasing to 30,000 - landed in April. It took them a whole year to crush the nationalist guerrillas. Twenty-one months after the start of the insurrection, the last remaining rebels came out of the forest, starved and without arms, leaders or supplies. "They were trying to eliminate all the officers and you only needed a pair of trousers and shoes to be a suspect", recalls Gisèle Rabasahala, then secretary to the French lawyers of the MDRM (which subsequently took control of the committee responsible for the defence and rehabilitation of the prisoners. "It was a real bludgeoning", adds Father Tronchon; "They called it pacification once they’d flattened everything".

According to the General Staff reports, which Father Tronchon uses as the basis of his figures, the so-called pacification led to 89,000 deaths, not to mention torture, summary executions and villages forcibly evacuated and torched. At the National Assembly, the French high commissioner gave a more comprehensive estimate: 90,000-100,000 dead. Many Malagasies say the slaughter was even more extensive. The French were then perfecting new techniques of colonial warfare, particularly in terms of psychological action. Just as the French forces had tested some of their weaponry in Madagascar at the time of the 1895 conquest less than 20 years before the first world war - orchestrated by Generals Gallieni, Joffre and Lyautey, the future "victors of the Marne".

The rebels themselves were responsible for the deaths of 550 Europeans and of approximately 1,900 Malagasies. In fact, against the backdrop of the colonial war, an appalling civil war was played out in the first weeks between the nationalists and members of the Party of the Malagasy Disinherited (Padesm). This group was supported by the colonial authorities. It recruited chiefly among the mainty (blacks) and the descendants of slaves from the High Plateaux and among the inhabitants of coastal provinces. It accused the MDRM of having "fomented the rebellion in order to restore the former monarchy and the hova hegemony" (6).


The Malagasy rebellion was one of the most bloody episodes in French colonial history

....
Although the uprising eventually spread over one-third of the island, the French were able to restore order after reinforcements arrived from France. Casualties among the Malagasy were estimated in the 60,000 to 80,000 range (later reports estimated 11,000 casualties, of whom 180 were non-Malagasy). The group of leaders responsible for the uprising, which came to be referred to as the Revolt of 1947, never has been identified conclusively. Although the MDRM leadership consistently maintained its innocence, the French outlawed the party. French military courts tried the military leaders of the revolt and executed twenty of them. Other trials produced, by one report, some 5,000 to 6,000 convictions, and penalties ranged from brief imprisonment to death.

In 1956 France's socialist government renewed the French commitment to greater autonomy in Madagascar and other colonial possessions by enacting the loi-cadre (enabling law). The loi-cadre provided for universal suffrage and was the basis for parliamentary government in each colony. In the case of Madagascar, the law established executive councils to function alongside provincial and national assemblies, and dissolved the separate electoral colleges for the French and Malagasy groups. The provision for universal suffrage had significant implications in Madagascar because of the basic ethnopolitical split between the Merina and the côtiers, reinforced by the divisions between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Superior armed strength and educational and cultural advantages had given the Merina a dominant influence on the political process during much of the country's history. The Merina were heavily represented in the Malagasy component of the small elite to whom suffrage had been restricted in the earlier years of French rule. Now the côtiers, who outnumbered the Merina, would be a majority.

The end of the 1950s was marked by growing debate over the future of Madagascar's relationship with France. Two major political parties emerged. The newly created Democratic Social Party of Madagascar (Parti Social Démocrate de Madagascar--PSD) favored self-rule while maintaining close ties with France. The PSD was led by Philibert Tsiranana, a well-educated Tsimihety from the northern coastal region who was one of three Malagasy deputies elected in 1956 to the National Assembly in Paris. The PSD built upon Tsiranana's traditional political stronghold of Mahajanga in northwest Madagascar and rapidly extended its sources of support by absorbing most of the smaller parties that had been organized by the côtiers. In sharp contrast, those advocating complete independence from France came together under the auspices of the Congress Party for the Independence of Madagascar (Antokon'ny Kongresy Fanafahana an'i Madagasikara-- AKFM). Primarily based in Antananarivo and Antsiranana, party support centered among the Merina under the leadership of Richard Andriamanjato, himself a Merina and a member of the Protestant clergy. To the consternation of French policy makers, the AKFM platform called for nationalization of foreign-owned industries, collectivization of land, the "Malagachization" of society away from French values and customs (most notably use of the French language), international nonalignment, and exit from the Franc Zone.

posted by Steve @ 3:05:00 PM

3:05:00 PM

The News Blog home page





 

Editorial Staff
RSS-XML Feeds

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
 
 
 
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans